Is your tummy growling? Got an empty stomach? Then get your feet moving and head to The Full Belly Deli in Paso Robles.
Located in an industrial area on Commerce Way on the east side of town, The Full Belly isn’t a place most people would stumble upon during an average weekday. However, the welcoming deli is well worth seeking out, whether you prefer savory items or have a discerning sweet tooth.
Though she didn’t have any prior restaurant experience, Paso Robles native Heidi Sonniksen jumped at the chance to retool the existing deli location into something all her own. She quietly opened The Full Belly Deli in July, using a name she thought of because “people know that when they come to my house, they’re going to eat!”
Sonniksen developed the weekday breakfast and lunch menu with help from friends and colleagues, and with an eye toward “things that I liked and wanted to see.” One outcome of that approach are the Little Belly Meals for kids — sandwiches such as salami, turkey, or peanut butter and jelly that are served with applesauce, a small bag of chips or pretzels, and juice.
Full Belly’s breakfast items are available until 11 a.m., and include bagels, daily burrito specials and a breakfast sandwich — egg and cheddar cheese, your choice of black forest ham or a sausage patty, served on either a croissant or English muffin.
If you’re doubly hungry, you can double down and order up a Full Belly Special, essentially the same breakfast sandwich but with two eggs and slices of cheese. For morning joe cravings, enjoy a cup of locally roasted Joebella Coffee that’s been custom blended for the deli.
On the lunchtime side of the menu, The Full Belly offers hot and cold sandwiches, panini, wraps, and entrée salads, plus freshly made soups and deli salads such as pasta and potato. The sandwiches range from the Tassel Tuna to the Bearcat Pastrami, the El Paso with turkey and jack to the Sweet Surprise with turkey and cranberry sauce, the Benni Classic with ham and cheddar to the One-Armed Bandit with corned beef and Russian dressing on rye.
Other lunch items include a Pomegranate Chipotle Turkey panino with arugula and cheddar, a Belly Wrap with chicken and black beans, and Heidi’s Favorite salad with spring mix, green apples, candied walnuts, bleu cheese crumbles and house-made raspberry vinaigrette.
By design, there are only about two dozen items regularly available at The Full Belly Deli because “I wanted to establish a simple basic menu, but then have different specials every day,” said Sonniksen. Recently, those have included a roast beef panino with zesty barbecue sauce, a bowl of freshly made chili served with cornbread, and a pulled pork sandwich with house-made cole slaw.
Sonniksen also said that “people can always do kind of a build-your-own sandwich — just tell us what you want.”
In addition, she readily admits to a love of baking that she learned from her mom, so be sure to check out Full Belly’s daily lineup of freshly baked cakes, cookies and other sweet treats. Among those temptations might be German chocolate cake, apricot scones and lemon bars.
More lessons learned from her family include some of the innumerable ins and outs of having your own business.
Though she didn’t have restaurant experience, Sonniksen did have the benefit of being involved with family-owned and operated businesses throughout her life, something she prizes as invaluable.
As she put it, “You really can’t ever replace what you’ve learned growing up in and working at a small business.”